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INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY

STUDENT GUIDE

25

only occasionally leave it. This is called a community, and it is the fourth form of social organization.

Whether or not a given group is a community is often debatable, but to the extent that we can establish it as a self-sufficient social organization, we can so designate it.

Society

We can define society simply as the largest social organization whose patterns make a significant difference to the individual’s actions. It is the social organization within which all other social organizations exist.

Within society we will find a host of dyads, groups, formal organizations, and communities, each affected in part by its location in society.

Society is a social organization with a long history, longer than any of its actors, and usually longer than other social organizations. It is embedded in its past; it is enduring.

Talcott Parsons and others describe societies as systems of interrelated parts such as structures or institutions. Societies develop parts to meet the requirements for survival.

The various parts of society (such as family, religion, education, economics, and politics) are interdependent. What happens in one part of society impacts all of the other parts of society. For example, public schools are assisted or hampered by the socialization process of students within the family unit. If families do not appropriately do their job in socializing their offspring, the public school is hampered in completing its task in educating those offspring.

Copyright © 2005 Mount Vernon Nazarene University Adult and Graduate Studies

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